There are multiple parks for viewing the butterflies in this area, some have been deforested more than others. Paulo and Lisette at Rancho San Cayetano can fill you in on the best place to view the butterflies. It's about an hour and a half on horseback and maybe a 30 minute walk after that. Bring sunscreen and DEET, as well as food and water. You hire a guide with the horse, I believe. We didn't get to go, but talked with others who had, and they said it was amazing. Remember to time your trip properly, because it's only in the winter in the US when the butterflies are in Mexico. Check on the web for exact details.
This is a great town, with about a quarter of a million inhabitants. It's definitely off the beaten path, unless you're going to see the Monarch Butterfly migration. I suppose the thing that makes it special, apart from the butterflies, is that it's such a typical Mexican town. It's the kind of place you can explore and be safe. We were there with business associates, one of whom was born there. My husband went with them to see property, and I (as a woman) went alone with the Suburban we rented and explored the city. Other than driving on the narrow streets (with no stop signs for either direction at intersections) with such a big vehicle, I felt completely at ease. And if you're going to Zitacuaro, you definitely want to stay at :
RANCHO SAN CAYETANO S.A. DE C.V.
Carretera a Huetamo Km. 2.300
Apartado Postal #23
61500 Zitácuaro Michoacán.
Tel. (52) (715) 1 53 19 26
It is owned by a couple, Paulo and Lisette. It's like an oasis of beauty and serenity. They have 9 rooms, I think, and 3 cottages. We stayed in the stone cottage, and it was like a second honeymoon. The gardens and pool, the antiques in the rooms....and no TV or telephone! It's a perfect retreat, and would be a great honeymoon stop.
We never got to see the Monarch's, which is a crime. The second day it was cloudy and cold, and the butterflies don't move if it's too cold. But we're sure to go back.